Humpback whales migrate south each fall and many pass close by North Carolina’s beaches on their way to warmer winter waters in the Caribbean.
Staff at Jennette’s Pier on the Outer Banks shared photos this week as two of the endangered giants swam not far from shore.
“Two whales, most likely humpbacks, spout at the surface while swimming past Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head Monday afternoon. Humpback whales are found in every ocean in the world,” pier staff said on Facebook.
Jennette’s Pier is part of North Carolina Aquariums and the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Describing the photos, pier staff said, “The pectoral fin of a whale sticks out of the ocean as it swims by Jennette’s Pier with another whale on Monday. The unique sea creatures spend the summer months off New England and winter in the warm waters off of the Bahamas.”
The whales will migrate back north in the spring, again passing by North Carolina and giving lucky beachgoers a chance to see the marine mammals.
Humpback whales can grow to 40 tons and 60 feet long, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fact sheet.
“Humpback whales live in oceans around the world. They travel incredible distances every year and have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet,” NOAA said.
The North Atlantic humpbacks spend the summers between Maine and Norway and migrate to the West Indies in the Caribbean to calve and mate each winter, according to NOAA.